AAAAAHHH Moments

31/01/2017

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Will I stop with the Wynonna Earp references? No. Is this my current emotion. YEP. I know I said I would write about my first day, but instead I’m going to write to you about my first week in Japan. It has been a roller coaster of emotions from the moment I got onto a plane and left Australia. Let me share with you something I like to call my ‘AAAAAHHHHH moments’ in Japan so far.

FIRST DAY

On my first day, I was felt disgusting because I just came off an eight-hour flight with a five-hour layover. Naturally, I asked if I can use the shower to freshen up and look more presentable. Luckily, the shower was easy to figure out so I had no troubles there. So when I came down, my host dad told me he had to go to an event and left me with a close family friend. She seemed very lovely, so I didn’t have any problems with this. However, I didn’t know she was a family friend, I thought she was my host mother. So I asked if I should call her ‘okasan’, which is mum in Japanese. They just laughed and explained to me who she was. I wanted to face palm myself.

It doesn’t end there though, once my host dad left, she asked me if I wanted something to eat for lunch. I said yes because who can deny food? She then prepared some instant ramen and placed it on the table for us to eat. I thought I would be fine if I just ate it how I would normally eat ramen in Australia. I WAS WRONG. She informed me of things that were important to do while eating in Japan like: keeping your left hand on the table during the meal, sitting up straight, slurping if eating noodles, and saying a phrase before and after eating. Years of being a weeboo nerd who loves Japanese culture and thinking I knew about manners in Japan… BOY WAS I WRONG.

SECOND DAY

We went to the shopping centre here and I had to use the bathroom again. I didn’t know how to flush it again and spent 10 minutes in the bathroom trying to figure it out.

I NEED TO FIND A GUIDE ON THE TOILETS HERE. EACH TOILET IS DIFFERENT AND HAS DIFFERENT BUTTONS.

THIRD DAY

I went to City Hall to sort out some visa and insurance stuff, needed to go to the bathroom again and got confused. I turned on the bidet and water came out. Worst part is I wasn’t sitting on the toilet when it turned on and water went everywhere.

TOILETS MY ENEMY HERE.

FOURTH DAY

My first day of school in Japan was an experience…  The day started off with me waking up late and taking 30 minutes to get into my uniform. I have to catch a bus to school and just my luck, it was snowing heavily that day. This meant, the bus was delayed for about 20-30 minutes. 16237210_1189354977780363_593058269_n.jpgComing from summer in Brisbane to winter in Toyama is a big difference.I was freezing and it was so cold that my boot got stuck in the snow.

Eventually the bus came and I was off to Kokusai Toyama, otherwise known as 16216424_1187516154630912_465696834_n.jpgToyama University of International Studies. It wasn’t too bad, since it was an international school and everyone can speak a good amount of English. But, like every student’s first day, you’re going to be scared shitless. So after my introduction speech to the class, we had PE. In Japan you have 2 uniforms, one for PE and one for every day use. I brought my PE uniform with me just in case and I thanked every star in the sky that I did. I was about to go into the bathroom to change, but then I saw everyone just getting changed in the classroom. I wanted to try to fit in as quickly as possible, so I just changed in the classroom with everyone else. Don’t worry though, my class is predominantly female, so the boys had to change in another room. My ‘AAAAAHHHHH moment’ didn’t come until we finished PE. After that class, we had to change back into our other uniform. Remember when I said it took me 30 minutes to get into my uniform that morning? These kids can do it in 2-3 minutes. For about 5 minutes, I was failing miserably to get a ribbon around my neck. Needless to say, I was the last one to get changed. After I thought I was done changing, someone pointed out that my ribbon was done up wrong. I tried to fix it, but in the end another girl had to help me. I needed to place my head on the desk after the whole fiasco.

FIFTH DAY

I forgot my umbrella on the bus going home.

SIXTH DAY

The group of girls asked me if I knew some Japanese and pointed to their eyes gesturing I say the Japanese word for it. Eye is め (pronounced m-eh), but instead of saying め I said みみ (pronounced m-ee, m-ee). They laughed because みみ in Japanese means ear. I laughed too but, I was embarrassed because I said it so confidently.

They weren’t mean about it though, afterwards they pointed out different parts of the body and taught me how to say it in Japanese.

SEVENTH DAY

So I forgot my belt in Australia and couldn’t wear certain pants because they were too loose.

Yup.


I’m a mess. c:

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The Journey so Far

22/01/2017

Well it looks like I’m finally here. After a year of Rotary orientations and people giving me advice on what to do… I made it! So, naturally, I’m going to tell you my journey.

It’s started when I kissed my parents goodbye at the Brisbane airport to fly to Sydney, it was in the moment I felt, “Oh my Lord, what have I done.” Don’t get me wrong, I was super excited to go, but there was a part of me that was terrified of doing things on my own without my parents. However, this emotion slowly subsided because the two exchange students sitting next to me were feeling the same thing and they were going to Japan as well!

After talking for an hour on the plane, we made a not-so-smooth landing into Sydney. Thankfully, someone meet us at the domestic airport to take us to the international airport. From there we meet more exchange students travelling to Japan! I didn’t really talk to them much because I was hungry so some of us exchange kids decided on what our last meal in Australia should be. McDonald’s.

As time flew past while I was eating, it was announced our plane was commencing boarding. Once we entered the plane some of the other exchange students were sitting far from me, the two I came to Sydney, and one other exchange student.16237985_1187042071344987_710186425_n.jpg Luckily for us, we still sat together all the way to Haneda. But the plane ride over, was just emotions galore. The girl sitting next to me was like, “We should watch this anime!” It was called ‘your name.’ or ‘Kimi no Na wa.’ For those who have seen it, you know it was a very emotionally gripping movie. Definitely not that appropriate for us to watch because we were already pretty emotional. Nevertheless, I would 100% recommend it to everyone (just don’t watch it when you’re on a plane leaving your friends and family for a year).

We finally, FINALLY, made it to Japan. But the worst was yet to come… I’m exaggerating but, I was pretty anxious from this moment onward. Once we landed, we were separated from the other exchange students so we just had the four of us. We went into immigration together and we were then divided into two groups. Now, if you guys don’t know, immigration is a terrifying thing. You have to just be serious and get through it, no jokes, no funny business. The other exchange student and I were low-key very nervous because we got separated. But we remained calm and cool regardless… until we got through immigration and couldn’t find our bags. Yep. We looked all over for our bags until we were told to go to baggage claim. So we explained the story to the ladies at the counter with the look of childhood trauma in our eyes. Eventually they found our bags and a worker ran up to us with a cart with our bags on them. From there it was a smooth journey. We checked in our bags and went to the domestic airport. We didn’t find the other exchange students, but we just assumed their flights were pretty early since the two of us had to wait 4-5 hours for our plane. The two of us then got on a shuttle bus and we both had to go to different domestic airports. We departed ways when I got to mine and then I was alone for a solid three hours. I took the time to get dressed into different clothes and freshen up a bit before I depart for Toyama. WELL LET ME TELL YOU, I went to the bathroom to get changed and used the toilet… BUT I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO FLUSH IT AND THE INSTRUCTIONS WERE IN JAPANESE. I was in there for a solid 10 minutes, until I waved my hand above something I heard the flushing sounds. Being so embarrassed, I rushed out of there looking totally weird and just sat down near my gate waiting to leave.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have anymore awkward encounters to Toyama. I actually managed to ask for some water like a pro. 16128803_1187042061344988_926215904_nAs you can probably see from the picture, it’s snowing in Toyama so when I got off the plane I was FREEZING. I didn’t find a bathroom to change into my thermals when we got off the plane, so I decided to just go to the arrival gate. But, there I saw a big banner that says, “WELCOME ALESANDRA DUMLAO!” (Pictures to come.) In my head, I thought it was so cute, but I also thought, “Oh my God, I smell and look like crap. Plus I’m freezing… I’m going to make a great first impression.” The people who meet me at the airport were lovely so I just forgot about my worries. Looks like I was starting here life in Toyama from that moment on.

That’s all I can write right now, but I will post about my first day here soon.


I’m a mess. c:

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Pre-Exchange PANIC

16/01/2017

In four days I’ll be off to Japan. Within the days prior, I’ve managed to pack my luggage for my journey. Now, the requirement that almost every Rotary exchange student, is that our check-in luggage must not weigh over 20kg. This is so that we won’t have to pay for excess baggage and that stuff is expensive. For example, with Virgin Australia you have to pay $70 every kg you go over. BRUUUUH. So I’ve tried my very VERY hardest not to go over 20kg and I’ve actually ended up with 16kg. A surprising amount of space was taken up by the Australian souvenirs I’m bringing.  Then I realised… I haven’t even packed my shoes or my toiletries. No big deal, right? Just put it on top of all my clothes and she’ll be right. Yeah, nah. If I did that, I would’ve had to do that cliché ‘sitting on my suitcase to get it to close and somehow manage to zip it up’. So I had no choice but to call my mother and ask her to help me re-arrange my suitcase. In the end, I’ve managed to stay within the weight limits and actually close my suitcase.

It will be very interesting to see how I’ll cope without my mother. I mean, I can’t do some things by myself (like opening bottled water) and I always ask for help with a person I feel comfortable with. I never have to worry about being dehydrated because someone else is always there to open my bottled water. This was a terrible analogy, but I’ve decided to stick with it. In Japan, sure I’ll have my host mother, but I feel like I’ll be too scared to ask for help or I’ll accidentally pronounce things wrong and horribly humiliate myself. Maybe this is the pre-exchange feels talking. Besides these feels, I’m super pumped!

Weird transition but, I feel like I’m going to have some sort of K-Drama type of exchange. In saying that I mean, that there’s going to be a lot of emotions being felt, just like K-Dramas. I’m not even there yet and I’m same.pngexperiencing all different types of feely feels. On one hand, I’m proud to be representing: Australia, multiculturalism, my district, my sponsor club and my family. On the other hand, I’m screaming internally because I’m afraid of doing something incredibly awkward and embarrassing. The picture on the side perfectly explains how I feel. (Where my Wynonna Earp fans at?) Then on the other, other hand, I’m hyped to study traditional Japanese culture and actually be able to I guess immerse myself in it. So, yeah lots of emotions.


I’m a mess. c:

If you want to keep up to date with me, you are feel free to follow my blog and any of my social medias! 

FB: Alesandra Dumlao

IG: @alesandradumlao

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